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SportsColumnistsAnthony Rieber

Yankees have changing of guard for first-pitch throwers

Former New York Yankee Tino Martinez throws the

Former New York Yankee Tino Martinez throws the ceremonial first pitch before game one of the American League Championship Series against the Detroit Tigers at Yankee Stadium. (Oct. 13, 2012) Credit: Jim McIsaac

Tino Martinez threw out the ceremonial first pitch at Yankee Stadium Saturday nightbefore Game 1 of the ALCS. David Cone did it before the final game of the Division Series on Friday. Before that, it was Willie Randolph and Mariano Rivera in the Yankees' first two home games of the postseason.

The Yankees love to dip into their storied past to whip the home crowd into a frenzy before playoff games. They probably would never think of doing what the Orioles did before Game 2 of the ALDS last week at Camden Yards.

The Orioles, who have a rich history of their own and plenty of former stars from whom to choose, had Baltimore native Josh Charles throw out the first pitch. Charles is an actor who appears on the CBS show "The Good Wife" and played a sports anchor on "Sports Night." He doesn't own any World Series rings, unless he bought one on eBay.

The Yankees used Rivera, their injured closer, as a surprise first-pitch thrower for their first home playoff game this year. He wasn't introduced by the public-address announcer but took the mound to his song, "Enter Sandman."

"This year, I thought it was important to kick off with Mariano," said Debbie Tymon, the Yankees' senior vice president of marketing. "It was a wonderful conversation because he said, 'I really want to play.' And I said, 'I can't get you into the lineup, but I can get you on the mound.' He was a natural."

Rivera has thrown out the first pitch before -- last season it was the game after he broke the all-time saves record.

Andy Pettitte, who started Saturday night's game for the Yankees, threw out a first pitch before a playoff game last season. He was retired then.

Tymon, who has been with the Yankees for 28 years and in the marketing side since 1994, used to have a very interested party help her with the selections: the late George Steinbrenner.

"He was involved in every step of the procedure," she said. "And he was very specific about who threw it, in what game. Very hands-on.

"We started with the older veterans. The Scooter [Phil Rizzuto], Whitey Ford, DiMaggio. We've lost a few and some of them are too fragile to throw out a first pitch. It's a little bit of evolving into relatively younger alumni. A changing of the guard, so to speak."

As much as manager Joe Girardi and the players have to deal with an uncertain playoff schedule, so does Tymon. For example, the Yankees are scheduled to host the final two ALCS games next weekend. But the series could end in five.

"We've laid some groundwork for next weekend in the event there's a Game 6 or 7," she said. "You kind of have to be prepared. You can't start dialing at midnight."

One famous, and potentially controversial, first-pitch thrower came in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS against the Red Sox. The Yankees lost the game and the series, but did get to have a little fun before the game started when Bucky Dent took the mound -- even though Tymon insists she wasn't trying to tweak Boston with memories of a certain home run from 1978.

"It was just his turn," she said.


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